gardening, Going Solo: Single Parenthood, imagination, life lessons, writing

My Daughter is a Horse.

My daughter is a horse. I don’t mean she eats like a horse or looks like a horse. I mean she is galloping around the living room on all fours shaking her head and neighing like a horse. She leaps from couch to coffee table pretending she is leaping over a canyon with a rider on her back. She will only tell me once that she is a “running horse” and then I must understand her. She will stay in character for up to 30 minutes sometimes. She remains focused and true to her character and never breaks. She has carefully studied hours of videos of horses and intently watched horses in real life to perfect her character.

At first I thought it was annoying when she wouldn’t talk to me while in character or that she watched so many horse videos. I kept thinking, “ Gah! I have a weird 3-year-old.” But then, as happens a lot now, I learned something from her. She doesn’t just say “I’m a horse” and then act silly around the living room. She commits. She studies. She will not break. She practices daily. She experiments with how a horse might move on steps or furniture. She reacts to our dog and cat as a horse might react to them. She pulls grass from our yard or on our walks and pretends it is hay for the horse to eat. Her focus and commitment is incredible.

I want to be a writer as much as my daughter wants to be a horse. The difference is I just say it, or don’t say it all but think it, and then I go about my business of doing everything except writing. I am just jumping around life being silly and not having any commitment to my passion. How many of us say we want to do something or be something and then fill our lives with silly things that have nothing to do with what we truly desire? When did we lose that sense of play and of really truly wanting to BECOME something. When we were children and played firemen or police officers or queens, we committed to those roles. We really believed we were those things and we gave it our all.

I recently visited the house I lived in in rural Alaska. We lived on roughly four acres of land in a mostly birch forest in a fairly tiny house. There was an old chicken coop on the property that my siblings and I had turned into a play house. My memories of this place ended at age 10 when we moved. I remembered a white birch forest where the trees almost glowed. I remembered our small patch of grass as a brilliant green and the trails through the woods leading into magical lands of adventure. The old chicken coop was massive and looked like the home of the fairy queen. At night, the Aurora Borealis would dance across the tops of the trees with every color of the rainbow and hiss and crackle at us and we stood below it in our pajamas and moon boots. We could see every star and planet in the galaxy. They were so close we could almost touch them. As an adult, I walked around our old property and everything was just brown. There are a scattering of birch trees, but other trees are there as well. The chicken coop was tiny and not the least bit magical. The place from my memory was nowhere to be found. When do we stop seeing the world as a magical place? When does it suddenly become cynical and ugly?FullSizeRender (5)

Life is magical to my daughter right now. She understands play and imagination. She looks at our mess of an urban back yard and calls it our “secret garden.” She finds the tiniest flower growing from the tiniest weed and jumps with joy screaming “momma, look a beautiful flower!! I’ll pick it so we can put it on our table.” My initial reaction is to protect her from the cynicism and ugliness that I see as an adult. As I have been observing her and recognizing my own sadness, however, I think I am going to take a different approach. Instead of trying to protect her, I’m going to let my imagination come back. I am going to welcome her with open arms. I am going to join my daughter as she neighs and gallops and I’m going to see the magic in our little backyard.
And then I’m going to write about it because that is what writers do.

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Run Momma Run

get up.

Four and a half years ago I ran my fourth half marathon. Two days later I found out that I was pregnant. I was a runner first and foremost. It had become the most important part of my life and I had fallen in love with every race and practice run. Running was the first img_2820thing I thought about when I woke up and it is what I planned on doing as I fell asleep each night. I had run two full marathons, four half marathons, a ten-miler, and countless 5Ks all in the span of about 4 years.

After I had my daughter, I got back to running pretty quickly and even got my body back. I began dreaming of the two of us running together across that first finish line. Then, shortly after her first birthday, things started falling apart. Life changed drastically for both of us and the running me seemed to disappear. The fun loving careless me disappeared too. The fearless me disappeared. The anxious and depressed me took over. My career and my daughter were both wonderful, but other things got out of my control and I just shut down. I shut down completely. My body, mind, and spirit all took a hit. Until a few weeks ago, I was pretty sure I would never fully recover.

Then, we lost a close family friend. This was a man who has been a mentor and pastor when I was in college and who had been an inspiration to my entire family. At his funeral I thought about the fact that there would never be anyone who could replace this man. He had a way of reaching you at your lowest and showing you how to rise up. Through stories told at the funeral, I was reminded that we all fall down at some point. If we are human, it is inevitable. The important thing is getting back up. This pastor was gifted at meeting people at that point and helping them get back up to finish the race. I wished I could talk to him one more time because I knew he would know what to say to help me to get back up. I fell down two years ago and I have been down too long.

When you are a solo parent of a toddler and you work full time, finding time to run, or work out at all, is nearly impossible. Finding “me time” in general is almost unheard of. When people tell me to take time for myself, I scoff. The other thing that is impossible, however, is being a solo parent and not asking for help. Trying to do everything yourself is a great way to completely burn out. Over the last few months, I have been slowly asking people for help. Family and friends have stepped in and fed my daughter, watched her for a few hours, taken her to school, and invited her for play dates.img_2818

Today was one of those days. My daughter was invited to a play date for the morning with the understanding that I leave her there. So, I laced up my running shoes, drove to my beloved Kelly Drive and walked 4 miles as fast as a snail!! It was sunny and beautiful and freezing cold and it felt amazing. Every biker, runner, walker, and Canadian goose passed me on the trail and I did not care one bit. I listened to the playlist I made for that half marathon four years ago and I remembered the me I used to be. Since I tried my first  bootcamp spinning class two days ago, my legs were solid blocks of painful cement that buckled at every incline, but it didn’t even matter. My body, mind, and spirit were up and moving together for the first time in years.
So, after months of not writing, here I am again. It is not to boast or gain pity. I am here for accountability. I am a writer and I am a runner. If I am truly going to “get up,” I must img_2821do both. This post is about as good as my sloth-like morning stroll, but it still feels great because I am not lying in a heap on the floor under my computer. I’m sitting in the chair and I’m ready to write again.

 

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gardening, Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Uncategorized

raw and open

Eight years and a few months ago I told a friend that I couldn’t imagine being happier about life and more excited about my future. I felt amazing. I was in the first semester of Grad school, I had just moved into a new house, I had gone from being a couch potato to running races and practicing yoga regularly, I had a new job as the executive director of an organization that brought me joy, and I was in the beginning stages of a new relationship with the first man I ever loved. I felt like I was on top of the world.

Then, like a sledgehammer to the skull, we got the death sentence diagnosis for my dad. He was dying. That’s it. There was no hope given. They could help him live a couple more years, but cancer would kill him and it would kill him soon. My dad. The man who lived his life serving others and would literally talk about what he would be doing when he was 100. He enjoyed life so much that it was contagious to be around him. He had already had cancer twice before and would joke about it. “I don’t get sick, I just get cancer,” he would say with pride.

A church friend recently talked about a garden being the metaphor for our lives and God being the Master Gardener. I have taken this idea and used it to help myself work through this season of my life. As I have highs and lows with my literal garden, I see the parallels with my life. Before the diagnosis, my garden was lush and full of herbs, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Heck, there were freaking butterflies and honeybees fluttering around. You get the picture?

My dad’s diagnosis was the first nasty weed. What followed was three years of watching my father struggle and hope and eventually die. My relationship of three years, the one that was supposed to last forever, died four months later. It was a relationship that might have lasted had it happened at a different time in my life, but sometimes grief has a way of killing things in its path. Three months after my relationship died, I  jumped into a summer fling with a man who I thought I knew and who I thought was an old friend, only to find out he was a complete stranger, was not at all who I thought he was, and I was left to face a pregnancy and eventually parenthood, alone. My lush happy garden slowly rotted and turned into a heaping compost as I blamed the Master Gardener and kicked him out.

Even moments before my daughter was born, I was sitting in the middle of my compost pile thinking the garden and life I once had would never happen again. I was admittedly, angry, hurt, defeated and hopeless. Then, the moment they put that baby girl on my chest and I saw those crystal blue eyes, a small but strong bud popped out of my heap of mush and began to bloom. Trying to keep this “bud” alive and blooming has required months of fighting a broken legal system, three years of pinching pennies and constantly worrying about money, learning how to ask and accept help, and inviting the “Master Gardener” back in.fullsizerender-3

A few days ago, in my actual garden, I spent the entire morning pulling up weeds, removing broken glass, ant hills, and dog poop, and pulling up dead tree trunks. It was the end of a weeks-long project that I was starting to think would take the rest of my life to complete. As I stood in the sun covered in sweat and dirt, I felt the most amazing satisfaction seeing the raw and open earth that I uncovered. It was ugly and beautiful at the same time. Aside from a single strand of purple Morning Glories, everything that had been there was now gone. I immediately started to cry. This garden was me.

My neighbors told me that this garden was once home to beautiful grass, vibrant rose bushes, and lush green trees. After years of trials and neglect, it became the weed covered trash-ridden lot that I purchased a few months ago. It was so bad that one of my neighbors suggested it was beyond repair and I should just fill it with concrete and call it a day. What it is teaching me, however, is that nothing and no one is past redemption. Like my garden, I reached a point in my life where I had to realize that in order for that one flower to grow and flourish, I would have to rip out all that was old, dig up the soil, remove the trash, and start again with new seeds. I would need expert advice and help with the hardest parts of the job. Most importantly, I had to stop focusing on what once was and what I thought it “should” look like. I have to accept what has happened, mourn any loss, and focus on each seed as new life grows and a whole new garden appears.

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Preggers

savor.

The following popped up in my Timehop today. It is from August 30, 2015. First of all, I cannot believe a year has gone by already. Bella starts her second year of school next week and I still remember the shock on her face when she took her first steps. I remember how she felt as a tiny infant snuggled up on my chest and sleeping on my belly. I still remember those first tiny kicks that I felt inside me. What a joy this journey has turned out to be. What a surprise it is to find out this little human chose me as her mother and I never realized just how much I needed her in my life. I only wish it would all slow down because I want to savor each of these moments for a little longer before they end up as yesterday.

I read this and I want to remember it and I know a lot of people can relate:

August 30, 2015, 10pm

I’m listening to Lumineers, packing up The last of Bella’s baby clothes, and crying. Tomorrow is the first full day of the first full week of school for her. School. This life goes way too fast. A month less than three years ago,  I found out she was coming into this world. Three years. That’s it. It seems like it was last week. I have learned so much about life and about myself in that time; definitely more than I ever learned in all 20 years of school. I have learned what I am capable of(and that it’s more than I ever imagined) I’ve learned what is truly important in life, and why love and forgiveness are way more valuable than any hatred or anger or. I’ve learned that money and things mean nothing in this life. I have learned to stop planning and just live. I have learned that chocolate hand prints on my wall are just as awesome as my art collection and that there isn’t a bad day in the world that can’t be cured by a toddler smiling ear to ear, yelling “mommy,” and running into your arms at the end of the day. I’ve learned that loving and supportive friends and family are a rare and priceless thing to have. I’ve learned to really give: my heartFullSizeRender (2), my money, my time, and that giving is the secret to why any of us are here in the first place. I’ve learned that having a child is a gift and should never be taken for granted. I’ve learned to give thanks for that gift endlessly. I’ve learned that being there for Your child and giving her your time means more to her than any toy or material thing you can give her. I’ve learned that even a two-year-old can show compassion and love beyond measure. And finally, I’ve learned that happiness is a choice, and when you choose it you realize that your life is suddenly easier and better than you ever knew it could be. So, thank you to all of you who have been and are a part of our life. Bella and I give thanks everyday for the people and love we have in our lives. We consider ourselves very lucky. The last three years have been the best and most exciting years of my life and I cannot wait to see what our future has in store for us.

And it’s all still true!

 

 

 

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gardening, life lessons, Losing Dad


FullSizeRender (1).jpgA few weeks before my dad passed away, I caught him eating a raw potato. A RAW potato. I jokingly asked him if he’d like me to cook it for him. I will never forget his response, “No. I like it this way. It tastes like earth.”

I lived in six different houses in six different towns growing up. Each one of them had an ample amount of Earth. At each house, my parents were adamant about having a garden, fruit trees, and plenty of green. My mom covered the house with plants of various origin and my dad focused on vegetables and fruit trees in the yard. From birth, I have watched the magic that happens when a seed becomes a sprout and a sprout becomes a plant, a flower, a vegetable, or a tree. It has always amazed me and been all the proof I need that there is something greater than myself. I remember living in York County, Pennsylvania, where we had a huge vegetable garden, and hiding between two rows of peas with my best friend. We would lay in the dirt and giggle as we filled our bellies with fresh sweet peas. There is nothing like biting into a crisp pea pod on a hot summer day. It tastes like Earth.

One of the reasons I love the garden and gardening is because it is one of the few places I can still sense my dad’s presence. Just as I can feel him smiling every time I open up a new book, my dad also lingers in the sprouting of a new seed and in each shovel full of Earth as I turn it over to start something new. When I found a house in the city with a big back yard, all I could think about was the garden I would be able to have. It would be the perfect way to honor my dad and share a part of him with Bella.

I definitely have my work cut out for me. In the first year of Bella’s life, I celebrated keeping a human alive while I mourned each plant and vegetable as one by one, they died a slow and painful death. Now I have a toddler that I still have to keep alive(not an easy task) and a yard full of weeds and random treasures that must be dug up and sifted one shovel at a time before I can even think of sowing any seeds. The process is slow and has required quite a bit of texts to mom, consults with experienced urban gardeners, and googling. I’ve also discovered that, for the most part, my gardening will have to be in containers and raised beds; something totally new to me and not exactly what I had hoped for.

There is actual scientific proof that having contact  with the earth through standing in your bare feet, sitting, or lying down on the earth, known as earthing or grounding, actually improves your physiological and electrophysiological health. In fact, when stressed or depressed, direct contact with the earth has been shown to improve your symptoms. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have actually been told that regularly walking through grass or soil will eventually improve my symptoms and balance the cortisol levels in my body. It makes sense. I spent much of my childhood barefoot and covered in grass and mud. There were many times my parents didn’t know where the earth ended and I started. “Earthing” is in my blood, but I have not done much of it in the past few years. It is a therapy I am willing to try and willing to create space for in my backyard.

This piece-of-earth project is not only for me. I want Bella to have the opportunity to ground herself daily. I want her to know what a tomato seed and flower look like. I want her to remember happily hiding in the rows of peas while she bites downFullSizeRender.jpg on a piece of earth. I truly believe an essential part of good parenting is figuring out a way for your child to connect to the earth somehow. Most people my age grew up “earthing” daily and we didn’t even know that what we were doing was actually beneficial to our health and well-being. Today, however, many of us have to work to make that happen for our kids. We are fighting against computers, and smartphones, video games, and bigger flatter TVs with more to entertain our kids every day. We need more hikes, walks in the park or on the beach, and weekend camping trips. And, if we have the space, or even just a pot of soil in the kitchen, we can fight that pesky technology with a nothing but a seed, some soil, and a little water and sunshine.

So, despite the fact that we may not see our first sprout until sometime next year, I’m looking forward to the hours of digging and weeding that Bella and I have before us this fall. I’ll be doing it with my dad’s old garden tools while I think of all his corny jokes and remember how excited he was the first time his fig tree produced fruit. Hopefully, by this time next year, I will be telling you about our very first potato and how Bella and I sat in our garden and ate it raw while we talked about Grandpa Wilcox and how truly delicious the earth tastes.

 

“For the beauty of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower, sun and moon, and stars of light;  
Lord of all, to thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise.”

 

 

It Tastes Like Earth

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Losing Dad

bella blooms.

I’m not going to make it a habit of blogging more than once a week, but since I am determined to do this and do it right, I think I should provide a little background to the blog as reference. I started by moving my old blogs over to this site so I have everything in one place. While writing has always been my passion, I started the blogging five years ago when I found out my dad had only a few weeks left to live. It helped to talk about it even though it often exposed some pretty intimate emotions publicly. As someone who has suffered on and off with anxiety and depression, I have a strong belief that being public about emotions is healthy and much better than bottling things up until we break. Or worse, faking happiness and perfection.

The blogging continued to be helpful through my pregnancy and my favorite part of that process was my inbox full of stories from other parents.  I felt like I joined some new club and it was wonderful to find out that no one in the club was perfect and the stories people shared were mostly about times they had royally screwed up. Personally, I feel like those are the kinds of stories we should share more publicly. My social media feed is full of posts about how great and perfect everyone’s life is, but hearing the weird and unpleasant stories, especially when we can laugh about them, is richer and a little more fun.

It is what makes us human.

I’ve been on a hiatus from blogging for a variety of reasons, but I am excited to get back to it. I live alone with a 3-year old, an old grumpy dog, and a cat who was born without balance or grace. As if that isn’t enough, I am a parent and a person who constantly makes mistakes, but is able to laugh at myself daily and walk away believing I am still an ok person despite my numerous flaws. My goal for this blog is to share a little about solo parenting(both toddlers and fur babies) and a little about my attempt at bringing the country girl inside me into my very Philly back yard.

Six months ago, I bought my first house. It is what I consider the best of both worlds. It is still less than five miles from the heart of Center City and no more than a 10 minute drive. Yet, it is still far enough out of Center City that we rarely have to deal with tourists or politicians disrupting our daily lives. The house is an old Philly row home that is original on the outside and completely flipped on the inside. It feels like a brand new house, but unlike many of the new condos popping up around the city, it was built in a time when things were built to last. It has survived over one hundred years of hurricanes, blizzards, floods, and heat waves. I was looking for a classic and although I originally wanted everything on the inside to be the original work as well, I must admit I am starting to like the facelift the house had before I bought it. I’ve never lived in a house where no one else has used the appliances or bathroom, or even walked on these floors. It makes it feel even more like it’s really mine. The biggest thing that sold this house for me, however,  was what was outside: a huge fenced in backyard that is rarely found in this area. I have a raised lawn that is 30’ x 10’ surrounded by a substantial patio all shaded by a massive Magnolia Tree. It is not the acreage this Central PA girl would prefer, but it is just enough to give me a place surrounded in green.

So, the down933F7610-DD2A-4D86-B54F-AD3BF5C9190Cside to this yard is that, like the house, it was abandoned for 6 years. Squatters filled it with garbage and with each rain, more “treasures” surface. To date, I have found diapers, a beheaded statue of Mary, shattered wine glasses and China, Christmas ornaments, broken toys, the rusted contents of a tool box, nails, cigarettes, cobblestones, pieces of a railroad, casino chips, bricks, and other random trash. Now you are probably wondering why I would want a house with a yard in this condition. The fact is that when I came to see the house, I looked outside and saw the incredible potential for the space. As I sift through it one shovel at a time(using my dad’s gardening tools), I find interesting pieces of the past and the good earth that still lives below the surface. My goal with this space is to fill it with clover and surround it with a container garden and some raised beds. This project will take a long time and since I am not an experienced gardener and barely have any idea what I am doing, I expect things to get interesting and most likely frustrating.
I see the yard as a physical representation of my life. I think that’s why I love it so much. I have also gone through some rough years and have some garbage to clear out of my life as I begin growing something new. So, as I figure out how to keep a kid, two pets, and some plants alive and growing, I’ll fill you in on the fun parts. 

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, life lessons, Run Momma Run

Love thyself.

When I was pregnant, I took extra special care of my body. I quit smoking, quit drinking, cut way back on caffeine, walked regularly, drank tons of water, ate mostly organic, covered my skin in coconut and almond oil daily to avoid getting stretch marks, slept as much as possible, and listened to a lot of empowering and happy music. After Bella was born, I nursed for 22 months. I got back into running, ate even more organic and stayed away from processed foods. I only occasionally drank and when I did, it was minimal. I slept when I could and tried to keep a positive attitude despite some challenges that came with getting used to taking care of another human being. I lost all of my pregnancy weight plus some and felt amazing.

Today I visited a friend’s pool at a high end apartment complex. The majority of people at the pool, even moms, looked incredible, fit, and happy. I looked down at my body and saw a year and a half of weight gain from eating crap, drinking way too much, and not even attempting to run again. I looked at my hairy legs and my messy hair and realized I hadn’t even showered in two days. It was clear my skin hasn’t seen a drop of lotion in a long time, let alone be covered from head to toe in oil. I also can’t remember the last time I did yoga or just sat quietly to read a book or listen to Bach’s Cello Suite.

Why is it that so many mothers do this to ourselves? We take amazing care of ourselves while pregnant and nursing because we want to ensure a healthy baby. Then, as the child begins coloring our walls and peeing on our rugs, many of us begin to give up to some degree. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard fellow moms joke about how long it has been since they have been on a date, taken a shower, gone out with their spouses, or eaten something other than goldfish and macaroni. This morning my beautiful 3-year old daughter reminded me that the massive treadmill in our living room is there for me to use. She is clearly aware of the fact that I haven’t been on it in a while and thinks that it’s probably time. It suddenly occurred to me that this precious baby still needs me to take care of myself in order for me to take the best care of her as well. Just because sh13920434_10153856682582005_6364152617981029699_oe’s not in my body anymore doesn’t mean that body no longer needs some attention.

I often use the excuse that I just don’t have the time. I work full time and am a solo parent. Like just about every other parent, I am busy. However, in the last two years, I somehow found the time to watch the entire series of about 20 shows, drink at least 100 boxes of wine, and eat enough cheese to fill the Packers’ stadium. I clearly have the time. So, today I came home, did a massive clean of my house, showered, shaved my legs and pits, sat down with a cup of tea, turned on Bach, and began typing. One of the things I also used to do was write. I wrote all the time and it was fun and therapeutic. I have not been in a good emotional place in the last couple of years and if I was being completely honest, I would admit that they have been the hardest and darkest years to date. Writing is my art form. It is how I have always best expressed myself and how I have worked through the good and bad in life. Since I stopped writing, I felt less connected and less like myself.
So, here I am writing again. As I work towards getting back to healthy and figuring out how to find my abs between boxed wine and a block of cheese, I’m going to dust off the book I never finished and share my new adventure here with anyone who is interested. My goal for now is to drink less, run more, meditate and practice yoga, eat more things that don’t come in boxes, cans, or bags, and write, write, write. 

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Preggers

preggers.

Are you drunk?

No. I’m Pregnant.

When you are pregnant, your sense of balance is off. So much so, that the doctor actually tells you not to ski, roller skate, or bike. I have avoided those things, but I still find myself running into walls, dropping things, and wobbling a bit.

Being pregnant is a funny thing. Suddenly, there is food I can’t eat that I am used to eating every day.  There are things that start happening to my body that I have no control over. My hormones are out of control: one minute I am happy as can be and the next I am crying uncontrollably and I’m not even sure why. All of these things are things I never really thought about. I have six nieces and nephews and countless friends with kids, but somehow I never really paid attention to what it was like to be pregnant. I really never thought I would be here in the first place, so I guess I never really thought it was that important. So, for those of you who have been wondering what it is like to be pregnant, here is a day in my life.tiny bump

I know what some of you are thinking: pregnancy means throwing up, eating all the time, gas, bloating, and weird cravings. I guess that is the experience for some women, but mine is different. I have to admit that so far, it has been kind of nice. I didn’t throw up except for one time when I switched vitamins. I don’t really have gas issues, I haven’t gained a whole lot of weight, I really don’t eat much more than I did before, and I haven’t really had any cravings for pickles or ice cream. In the beginning, when I was going through the worst of it, I only had fatigue and the taste of pennies in my mouth. Here is what it is like for me:

I wake up and wish I hadn’t. It usually happens way before my alarm goes off, so I start the morning a little irritated. Then, my little girl kicks and turns and I look down at my round belly and see it move. I enjoy this for a little while until I cannot wait any longer to go to the bathroom. Then, I head to the scale. Typically I am about the same as the day before. However, I will admit that in this last month, the scale has been slowly rising. I take a look in the mirror and see my strange new body. The boobs are a little larger, my veins are more pronounced, my thighs and hips are beginning to spread, there is a fuzz on my belly, and despite by bulging belly, my hip bones and ribs are protruding through my skin just enough that I can still remember the thin frame I had just a few months ago.

After my shower, I cover myself in lotion or oil. This is a very meticulous practice that I hope will help with the stretching. I am not afraid of stretch marks, but am doing what I can do avoid the post-prgnancy flabby belly. Then,  I take a look at my clothes and secretly wish I could just wear sweatpants, sneakers, and a hoodie all day. I do want to look somewhat professional, however, so I go to my small pile of maternity clothes and begin pulling the strange jeans or pants on up my legs and over my belly. I never thought I would be wearing jeans that touched my bra, but here I am. I the n go to my kitchen, make the first of only two cups of coffee I am allowed to ha all day, whip up a nice spinach shake, take my prenatal vitamins (gummies, no iron), drink some Kefir, and eat a bowl of iron rich cereal. After my one throwing up incident, I discovered the iron in my prenatals was making me feel sick. So, this has been my routine ever since. Grape Nut Flakes have been my new best friend.

Once I am at work, I get nice and comfy at my desk and stay that way until the leg cramps hit. I have no idea why, but if I sit too long, I get a strange cramp in my leg that comes out of nowhere.  This is the biggest nuisance in the last month. Throughout the day, I snack on things from time to time, drink large amounts of water, and feel slightly uncomfortable when people rub their hands all over my belly. I have never done this to someone else. I feel weird just reaching out and rubbing someone’s stomach. Yet, people I barely even know seem to feel like it is ok to just reach out and give a rub. I often imagine smacking these people and breaking their hands off, but so far, I just smile through the uncomfortable moment.

When I get home from work, I either go to my second job(a job I love but am afraid I won’t be able to do much longer), or I go home and crash. I try to walk the dog or get a little exercise, but I must admit I have mostly been lazy during this pregnancy. I also don’t cook much and typically get take out or microwave some vegan, organic, GMO free meal. To end the day, I put on a little music and watch my baby dance a bit before we both drift off to sleep.

So, if you wonder what it is like to be pregnant, it is actually kind of nice. I have this cool feeling that someone is always with me, I am fascinated with my changing body, and for the most part, I feel pretty amazing. Do I miss running, martinis, sushi, oysters, and energy drinks? Yes, I do, but they do seem a lot less important when you have a little one inside. I know I will have them again and I am pretty certain the sacrifice will be worth it the second I look in my daughter’s eyes. I will admit that, if given the chance, I think I would even like to do this again. Just don’t quote me on that until after I go through the birthing process.

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Preggers

Cinderella

I met an incredible artist tonight. Her name is Georgianna Hicks. First of all, check out her portfolio:  http://zealisnotacrime.carbonmade.com/

Cinderella

She created this depiction of Cinderella and I love it. I am currently trying to decide how to talk to my daughter about men. I saw this and thought, how perfect! This is the reality of Cinderella. This is how life is more likely to turn out (not exactly stabbing Prince Charming, but definitely feeling the anger when he turns out to be the opposite of what we expected). So, why should I lie to my daughter and tell her fairy tales of how some wonderful man will ride in on his while horse and carry her into the sunset? My story with men is not good right now, but it can be good, and for many of my girlfriends, it is.

When I found out that I was having a daughter, I immediately thought that I needed to decide what I am going to tell her about men. My own mother didn’t give me many warnings about men or much guidance in that department. Why would she? She found my dad in her late teens and was married to him when she was 20. She found what I consider to be the perfect man without a whole lot of trial and error. By the time she was my age, she was happily married to a wonderful man and had three children. The rest of us are not so lucky. I feel the need to let my daughter know up front what this is going to be like for her. And, if she turns out to be attracted to women, I have plenty of friends who can help her out with great advice. For now, however, I am going to assume that she will be dealing with men and give her a little advice.

When I told my friend I was going to write this blog, we were with her 8 year old daughter. Her mother and I asked her what she thought of boys and she said, “Boys stink!” In hearing this, I thought I could probably just write those two words and it would be enough to prepare my own daughter for what she needed to know. The problem is that my father was an incredible man and my daughter’s uncles are incredible men. My own uncles are incredible men. My male cousins are incredible men. One of them is a single father of three and, though I don’t see him often, I admire him and am impressed by his courage and strength as he works hard to raise his children. I have often thought that I just have bad luck with men and that perhaps the women in my life just lucked out in a way that I never will.

Let’s be honest about my situation right now. I’m five months pregnant and my daughter’s father has not done anything helpful or supportive during this pregnancy. The only thing he has done is to try to pretend none of this is happening. He was my friend and I have known him for years. I trusted him and thought highly of him at one point in my life. How am I supposed to explain to her that there are good men in this world when I feel stupid for believing they existed? We grow up with this belief that our soul mate is out there somewhere and that he is going to swoop in and woo us and we will live happily ever after. So, when a man shows us a bit of attention and starts the wooing, we trust that it is real and believe what we are told. Our problem is not the men. Our problem is our approach. We need to stop being doormats and start being a little bitchy.

Tune in next time for my explanation……

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Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Preggers

A Letter to my Daughter

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Today I had my ultrasound. Today I found out you are a girl! I don’t want to forget a single moment of this, so I decided to write you a letter. To begin with, I want you to know that although this is not a traditional pregnancy where a father and mother are celebrating together, I am not alone in my celebration of you. There is always someone willing to go with me to appointments and there is always someone there to help me when I need it.

Today, on the day when I feel like I first met you, your Aunt Courtney was there with me. You need to know who she is to me. Courtney was a good friend in High School. We both went to college and went our separate ways. Then, my father died. It was the worst thing that ever happened in my life. I loved him so much and was not ready to lose him. After not seeing her for more than a decade, Courtney came to the funeral. A friend like that is a true friend. When things are really hard in your life, your real friends will be the ones who are there for you and with you. This is something I learned as an adult, but I want you to know that now. Also, if you think you’ve lost a friend because your lives go in different directions, they will come back at just the right time. Courtney came back when I lost my dad and has been at my side throughout my pregnancy. I pray you find a friend like her.

Courtney filmed much of the ultrasound, so I will be sure you see that video someday. Seeing you was breathtaking. By the time you read this letter, you will know me well enough to know that I talk a lot. Apparently, God has sent the cure because you make me speechless. I thought I would be crying through the whole thing, but I could barely breathe or blink. Your little toes and feet and legs and hands are all so perfect and inside me right now. I cannot believe you are in there moving around and stretching out and becoming this amazing person. At one point, you pressed your face against the ultrasound and peeked at us. I saw your little nose and eyelids and mouth. That is when the tears welled up. It was like you were saying, “here I am, mommy. I can’t wait to meet you!” I’m going to be totally corny and just tell you that you had me at hello. I am so in love with you right now that I can’t even stand myself.

The rest of the day I felt like I was high. I know you need more time to grow, but I don’t even want to wait for the next five months. I am not sure how I am going to contain myself or focus on anything important. I want to write this now because I know there will come a time in about 15 or 16 years when you think I hate you and want to ruin your life. I know, because I have been there with my own mother (It will be this one little phase and we will get through it and be crazy about each other again). The fact is that I cannot think of one thing on this entire planet that could ever make me not love you. I cannot think of one person who I love as much as I love you. I can’t even explain the feelings that I am feeling right now except to say that I feel whole and complete for the first time in a long time. This letter will be ongoing and I will add many other letters to it. I want to start writing down the things I want to teach you about life.

For now, however, I want to promise you that I will always always love you. You will mess up and make mistakes and I will still love you.  You will hurt my feelings, but I will still love you. You will make decisions about your life that I don’t agree with, but I will still love you. You came into my life when I least expected it and you filled an empty space. Thank you for choosing me. Thank you for knowing when I needed you and coming at just the right moment. I love you.

Love,

Mom

“And I thank you for choosing me

To come through unto life to be

A beautiful reflection of his grace

For I know that a gift so great

Is only one God could create”

~Lauryn Hill, To Zion

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